Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

October 26, 2016   |   Ithaca, NY


Editorial: Fight the plastics

By considering the implementation of a county-wide ban on plastic bags, Tompkins County’s new approach overlooks the bigger picture

Plastic bags are often portrayed as the poster-child culprit of litter. To combat this issue, Tompkins County is proposing a plastic-bag ban. Though this is a step in the right direction toward sustainability, innovative ways for the community to reuse and recycle would be a more effective solution.

Wegmans has a recycling program that allows customers to return plastic bags to collection bins in the grocery store’s lobby. In 2012, the program had collected 3.4 million pounds of plastic. Terracycle, a company that collects hard-to-recycle products, such as juice boxes and candy wrappers, has bins located around Ithaca College’s campus.

Though the college would be exempt from this ban if it were implemented, it could create a plastic-bag program like Wegmans’ in locations such as Sub Connection and Mac’s General Store. It could also promote Terracycle to be more prominent on campus, such as in residence halls.

It is great that Tompkins County is striving to find legal incentives to promote sustainability, but programs that teach people to reuse and recycle are much more effective as they instill habits that individuals could take outside of Tompkins County.